Ep 79: David Keith, Professor at Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Kennedy School, and Founder of Carbon Engineering

Released Thursday, 6th February 2020
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Today’s guest is David Keith, Professor at Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Kennedy School, and Founder of Carbon Engineering.
David has worked near the interface between climate science, energy technology, and public policy for twenty-five years. He took first prize in Canada's national physics prize exam, won MIT's prize for excellence in experimental physics, and was one of TIME magazine's Heroes of the Environment. David is Professor of Applied Physics at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and Professor of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, and founder of Carbon Engineering, a company developing technology to capture CO2 from ambient air to make carbon-neutral hydrocarbon fuels. Best known for his work on the science, technology, and public policy of solar geoengineering, David led the development of Harvard’s Solar Geoengineering Research Program, a Harvard-wide interfaculty research initiative. His work has ranged from the climatic impacts of large-scale wind power to an early critique of the prospects for hydrogen fuel. David’s hardware engineering projects include the first interferometer for atoms, a high-accuracy infrared spectrometer for NASA's ER-2, and currently, the development of pilot plants for Carbon Engineering and the development of a stratospheric propelled balloon experiment for solar geoengineering. David teaches courses on Science and Technology Policy and on Energy and Environmental Systems where he has reached students worldwide with an online edX course. He has writing for the public with A Case for Climate Engineeringfrom MIT Press. Based in Cambridge, David spends about a third of his time in Canmore, Alberta.
In today’s episode, we cover:
  • Overview of solar geoengineering
  • How concentrated an area can it be deployed in
  • Steps that go into testing it
  • 'History of solar geoengineering
  • Potential risks of deployment and potential risks of not doing the testing
  • Potential for unintended consequences
  • How hard it is to deploy
  • How much research is needed (and for what) and how much it will cost
  • Bridge versus longterm solution
  • Where it fits into overall climate solutions portfolio
  • What fossil fuel companies think of solar geoengineering
  • David’s advice for others looking to help facilitate research in this area and/or learn more about it
Links to topics discussed in this episode:
Additional Reading:
David Keith, “Let’s Talk About Geoengineering,” Project Syndicate, March 21, 2019.

David Keith, “Toward a Responsible Solar Geoengineering Research…,” Issues in Science and Technology, Spring 2017.

James Temple, “What is Geoengineering—And Why Should You Care?” MIT Technology Review, August 9, 2019.

Lizzie Burns, David Keith, Peter Irvine, and Joshua Horton, “Belfer Technology Factsheet Series: Solar Geoengin…,” Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Technology and Public Purpose Project, June 2019.
Jon Gertner, “Is It O.K. to Tinker With the Environment to Fight…,” The New York Times Magazine, April 18, 2017.
You can find me on twitter @jjacobs22 or @mcjpod and email at info@myclimatejourney.co, where I encourage you to share your feedback on episodes and suggestions for future topics or guests.
Enjoy the show!

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Episode Details

Length
1h 5m 19s
Explicit
Yes

Episode Tags